Richard Trumka : biography
Richard Louis Trumka (born July 24, 1949)Who's Who in America. 62nd ed. New Providence, N.J.: Marquis Who's Who, 2007. ISBN 0-08-379701-1 is an organized labor leader in the United States. He was elected President of the AFL-CIO on September 16, 2009, at the labor federation's convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009, and prior to that was President of the United Mine Workers from 1982 to December 22, 1995. Trumka was named one of Esquire Magazine's 2011 Americans of the Year.
Life and career
Trumka was born in Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, to an Italian American mother, Eola Elizabeth (née Bertugli), and a second-generation Polish American father, coal miner Frank Richard Trumka. He is a Roman Catholic. He went to work in the mines in 1968. He received a bachelor of science degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1971 and a law degree from Villanova University in 1974.Jim McKay, "From Mines to Summit of Unionism," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 23, 1995. He married Barbara Vidovich in 1982. They have one son. Associated Press. November 28, 1982.
National labor career
From 1974 to 1979, Trumka was a staff attorney with the United Mine Workers at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. He was elected to the board of directors of UMWA District 4 in 1981 and became President of the United Mine Workers in 1982.
While President of the UMWA, Trumka led a successful nine-month strike against the Pittston Coal Company in 1989, which became a symbol of resistance against employer cutbacks and retrenchment for the entire labor movement.Frank Swoboda, "Coal Miner Strike Was Symbol for Labor Movement," Washington Post, January 2, 1990. A major issue in the dispute was Pittston's refusal to pay into the industrywide health and retirement fund created in 1950. Trumka encouraged non-violent civil disobedience to confront the company and relied on a corporate campaign.
The United Mine Workers conducted a nationwide strike against Peabody Coal in 1993. Trumka was asked to respond to the possibility that some coal companies might hire permanent replacement workers. He told the Associated Press in September 1993, "I'm saying if you strike a match and you put your finger in it, you're likely to get burned."McClain, John D. "Violence Possible, UMW Chief Says." Virginian-Pilot. September 3, 1993. He also said, "That doesn't mean I'm threatening to burn you. That just means if you strike the match, and you put your finger in it, common sense will tell you it'll burn your finger. Common sense will tell you that in these strikes, that when you inject scabs, a number of things happen. And a confrontation is one of the potentials that can happen. Do I want it to happen? Absolutely not. Do I think it can happen? Yes, I think it can happen." The Associated Press reported that he was not threatening violence, and noted that UMWA staff had spent "thousands of man hours trying to prevent anything from happening ... to our members or by our members." Ellipsis in original.
Despite claims of non-violence by Trumka during the strike, a union coal miner, Jerry Dale Lowe, was eventually convicted in 1994 of killing Eddie York at a mine owned by the Arch Mineral Corporation. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/27/us/verdict-in-strike-slaying.html
Besides his domestic labor activities, Trumka established an office that raised U.S. mineworker solidarity with the miners in South Africa while they were fighting apartheid. He further served as the U.S. Shell boycott chairman, which challenged the multinational Royal Dutch/Shell Group for its continued business dealings in South Africa. For these steps, Trumka received the 1990 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award.
During his tenure as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, Trumka focused on creating investment programs for the pension and benefit funds of the labor movement, capital market strategies, and demanding corporate accountability to America's communities. He chaired the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, a consortium of manufacturing unions focusing on key issues in trade, health care and labor law reform. He co-chairs the China Currency Coalition, an alliance of industry, agriculture, services, and worker organizations whose stated mission is to support U.S. manufacturing. Press release. China Currency Commission. May 2, 2008.Detroit News. Washington Times. Associated Press Associated Press. Associated Press.
On July 1, 2008, Trumka delivered a speech attacking racism in the 2008 presidential election. A video with an excerpt of the speech attracted more than 535,000 hits on YouTube as of July 1, 2009. Trumka's video was "surely the first YouTube moment in the history" of the labor movement. Washington Post, September 7, 2009.
Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO after the retirement of John Sweeney in 2009 and president of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD in May 2010. Accessed 2012-04-24.
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